Biden won on infrastructure. Democrats are struggling to get voters to care.

Republicans take purpose

Republicans are largely taking two approaches to the infrastructure bundle — bashing the Biden administration’s makes an attempt to steer the spending, however basking in cash that results in their backyards.

Republicans have panned the Biden administration’s makes an attempt to interpret the regulation to suit their environmental and social justice goals, corresponding to a fix-it-first coverage for highways and laws to pressure states to set targets for lowering greenhouse gasoline emissions from transportation.

One partisan flashpoint was a December 2021 memo from the Federal Highway Administration that pressed state transportation projects to keep away from spending their new infrastructure cash on freeway widening, saying they need to make it a precedence to restore and improve current roads as an alternative. The administration argued this strategy will make transportation safer whereas lowering greenhouse gasoline emissions.

Sixteen GOP governors lambasted that effort in a letter to Biden as “a clear example of federal overreach,” noting that the steerage contains restrictions that had been deliberately disregarded of the ultimate invoice. The governors’ letter additionally warned Biden in opposition to attempting to “push a social agenda by way of onerous infrastructure investments,” particularly by way of “extreme consideration of fairness, union memberships, or local weather.”

Two dozen Republican senators, together with Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, despatched Buttigieg their very own letter attacking the FHWA memo. Buttigieg later admitted below hearth from Republicans in congressional hearings that the memo’s strategies weren’t binding.

“Quite a lot of these insurance policies run opposite to the compromises” that received the laws bipartisan approval, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) advised Buttigieg throughout a congressional listening to in Might. She stated the steerage “creates winners and losers amongst several types of tasks.”

Some Western state leaders have additionally complained that the regulation’s necessities for putting electrical automobile charging stations alongside interstate highways may very well be unimaginable to satisfy, contemplating their states’ huge expanses of open area. They’ve additionally pressed for flexibility in utilizing cash from the regulation to deal with threats corresponding to droughts, earthquakes and wildfires.

“A number of the wants on the East Coast replicate getting old infrastructure, whereas within the West, there’s the necessity to construct new and develop roads and highways,” stated Sophia DiCaro, a senior adviser to Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, who signed the letter to Biden that’s vital of federal steerage for infrastructure spending.

Not that Republicans essentially oppose the spending the regulation makes doable.

Take Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, who as the highest Republican on the Home Transportation Committee led the cost in opposition to the invoice’s passage. In August, his workplace issued news releases saying that street and sidewalk projects in Excelsior Springs and Maryville had received a mixed $27.5 million in grants offered by the regulation.

“Congratulations to all who put within the effort to get this cash,” he stated.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), saying a $21.7 million grant for a undertaking separating a street from a freight rail line, stated she was “happy the Division of Transportation acknowledges the vital security advantages that the completion of this undertaking will convey to the group.” She additionally famous that she had despatched DOT letters of assist for the undertaking and personally referred to as division management all through the decision-making course of.

McMorris Rodgers had additionally voted in opposition to the invoice.

When requested about these inconsistencies, Republicans have stated that after the regulation was enacted and the grant cash was out there, it was their duty to advocate for his or her communities to get their share.

Nineteen GOP senators, together with McConnell, voted for the invoice, however simply 13 Republicans supported it within the Home. Most of these 13 received’t return to Congress subsequent yr, together with 4 who retired after taking party-bucking votes to question Trump final yr.

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